“My first advice is don’t wait too long. We’re on the independent living part of it and sometimes people come in on independent that probably should go to the assisted living; they can barely get around. But like my wife just mentioned, I think it’s like any place you go, you’ve got to make an effort to meet people, do the activities. And that’s one plus that we have here, we don’t have that many people like some of them which are overcrowded.”
Darryl and Hazel Woodson interview, August 2014
Interview starts at 0:43
J: Hello there.
D: Hello there, how are you doing today?
J: I’m good, thank you this is Jill Hofer here at Watermark in Tucson is this Mr. Daisley?
D: I’m sorry, what?
J: I said hello there, this is Jill Hofer here at Watermark in Tucson.
D: Ok, I’m Darryl and Hazel Woodson, Amy told us to call you.
J: Oh great, thank you so much for calling in, I really appreciate both of your time.
D: No problem, your name is what?
D: Jill, ok.
J: Jill, like Jack and Jill.
D: Yes ma’am, Jill.
J: Great, oh thank you so much. I am very excited to speak with you two; we do a few of these interviews every now and then. What we’re trying to really understand is the process that different individuals go through when they decide to maybe make that move from home to a community and really there’s just not a wrong answer, just anything that describes your experience is helpful and it’s not so much about you know telling people, “Hey, you need to move to The Fountains.” It’s more, “Hey, you ought to really think about what’s right for you.” You know people stay in their house for kind of a long time sometimes.
D: Well Jill, Hazel my wife is on the line also.
J: Oh, great! Hi Hazel.
H: Hi there, Jill. What do you want to ask us then? We’ll be glad to answer anything.
J: Oh great, well, probably the best way to start is, if you don’t mind, is to kind of tell me how it worked for you, you know, where you lived right before and how that process really unfolded for you.
D: Well, Jill we looked at The Fountains and other places here in Oklahoma City about five years ago. We were living in Farmington, New Mexico at that time but the housing market about that time collapsed and we could not make this move without selling our home so we put it on hold. Also we had a grandchild getting out of high school in Farmington and we wanted to stick around and watch him in sports. Two years ago, we felt that we’d check in on it again, but nothing was available at that time.
We kind of knew the room that we wanted because Chrissy at that time had showed us this room that we now presently have, but there was a lady living in this. So we put it on kind of a hold and Chrissy called and told us that it was now available. We got in the car and came down and looked at it and said that’s what we wished to do but we had to sell our house too at that time. We went back home and luckily the house did sell, so we told Chrissy “okay.” We made our down payment and then we made a trip here and Hazel picked out the things that we wanted the apartment to have. Now Hazel is that pretty well up to date how we’re doing?
H: Yeah, I guess so.
D: It was a difficult move for us. We have a son living out there and we were very happy there but we also have a son here with two grandchildren. Also we came here to Oklahoma City because Hazel had to go about two years without a doctor out there because they wouldn’t take Medicare. But we did find one the last year we were there. I felt coming up on eighty-six and I’ve had prostate cancer, it would be a good move to make because if something would happen to me my wife wouldn’t have to go through the ordeal of selling the house and moving plus we also had a son living here, so that’s why we chose this particular place. We did look at other places but The Fountains here would take a small animal. We had a room we wanted on the bottom floor overlooking a little lake; it’s a beautiful view. And they fixed the apartment up the way my wife wanted it to be done and they’ve been very polite – Chrissy and now Jennifer and Amy. We have found the staff here to be very nice. The community is small but we like contact with people and that’s kind of why we chose to be here.
J: Well, that sounds like a great story, I love that you’re looking out for Hazel and her future and it’s wonderful that you have a son right there in Oklahoma. Had you previously lived in Oklahoma?
D: We were both raised in Oklahoma. In 1950 I went with air National Guard in Oklahoma to Korea and so when I got out of the Army in 1952 I was in education as a teacher to start with and ended up going to Kansas after four years in Oklahoma. And I spent thirty-five years as a principal and superintendent in Kansas.
J: Oh, ok.
D: So then we moved to a retirement village in Arkansas, Bella Vista, you might be acquainted with it. Then we moved to New Mexico and when all the grandchildren moved out on their own, our son here said, “Come on back, dad and mom, and you can help us with our grandkids.” We’re originally Okies, yes ma’am.
J: Well, you’ve come full circle; you are no stranger to moving are you?
D: Oh no, we moved several times for my job opportunities. This move was very difficult, my wife had a beautiful home and the people out there were super, the climate was fantastic. I might mention one other move to you that was interesting to us – being in Oklahoma originally we knew we were going through tornadoes and we do have underground parking here as you well know and that’s a feeling of security for us to go to when they blow that whistle.
J: That’s terrific, yeah that’s a really good point, I’m glad that you mentioned that. Were there any other things on your pros and cons list as you were looking, I know you mentioned that the pet friendly policy and the tornado safety, was there anything else that really was important to you in choosing the right retirement community?
H: Jill, I’m a walker and I love the space around here.
J: Oh, really?
H: Yeah, you’ve got a walking trail and I walk it when I can and when not then I walk the hall and I like the pool and the gym with the exercise. I don’t feel enclosed here. I mean there’s space around and I like that very much.
D: We don’t feel closed in; we have lots of acres around this and it’s pretty comfortable knowing that you know, she can walk and so do I. I walk the dog every day, too. But the people here on the staff are very friendly, they do a good job in the sales department. And food, we don’t gripe about it. It’s a nice dining hall. We do feel like that sometimes we feel like maybe the dining room carpet is getting a little bit old.
D: I don’t know when they’re going to fix that up but it’s in much need of that, but that’s just a small thing for us.
J: Well, I know that we do have some plans in the works for some renovations there; I’ll talk to Scott and see if that dining room carpet is on the list.
D: Yeah, it needs to be. Don’t you think Hazel?
H: Well, it’s soiled but it’s ok, it’s not that bad.
J: Oh, ok.
D: Becky in the social department, she has activities going constantly here.
J: Oh, really? What kind of activities do you two partake in?
D: Well, once a month they bring in a small dance band and have an open bar. I went and they have various things you know.
H: Well, we’ve gone to all of those. It’s called a theme dinner. We go at 4:30 and have a drink if we want to and then dance if you want to and then eat dinner afterwards.
D: I also might mention that Becky asked me to have a blackjack game twice a month and I usually have about twelve people come and participate in that.
J: Oh, no kidding.
D: Becky also has established a men’s group and we’ve made one trip to a baseball game. Right now we’re collecting clothes that the veteran’s hospital is much in need of so we are out scavenging around asking people to help us with clothes for the VA hospital patients, so she’s very busy, very active and she’s got something going all the time. Plus the fact that my wife is a bridge player.
J: Oh really?
D: Tell them about that Hazel.
H: I love bridge, that was one of the first questions I asked and there are more bridge players coming in and another friend and I have started a duplicate club here twice a month. I play quite a bit outside with my friends, we go to duplicate in Edmond and different places. Anyway, bridge is a great thing and there’s other games that are going on. We have a beautiful library. In fact, I kind of redid all of that last December.
D: Well, what she did Jill, she took every book off the shelves, cleaned the shelves and the books and put them back in order. She did it very diligently. She really helped that library a lot.
J: That is really wonderful and everybody that goes there is appreciating your effort now that’s for sure.
D: We’re also ambassadors, we meet people. I’m also a floor rep and we meet once a month with all the other people on the floors, so we’re pretty active I would say there on that part.
J: Yeah, definitely, thanks for all the things that you’re doing for the community.
D: I try to tell people we were kind of shocked when we first came here seeing the age of the people. that had been here for several years. We’re trying to encourage people I think, sometimes they wait too long to come here and that’s one of my sales pitches to them, “Don’t wait ’til you can’t hardly get around.” Moving, selling your house, your car and all that kind of stuff is a big psychological effect on a lot of people but I don’t know, personally I like it real well. Hazel has had some questions about it but I think she’s come along.
H: I have not disliked it, I’ve just kind of missed my home and you know.
D: Which is a natural reaction.
H: My old bridge club and things like that. It’s a good place to be and I know this is probably where we should be. What else do you want to know Jill?
J: The fact that you do feel a little bit of, you know, homesickness for your last house really probably helps other people relate to you because they’re probably feeling the same way as they are making their decision.
H: I think so, I think so. I like to still bake and when we go to see everybody when new people move, I always take a loaf of quick bread along to them and I like to do that. When I hear people say they miss their home, I usually say, “Hey, you know I’ve been in the same boat and still am some of the time.” I kind of miss my son back in Farmington sometimes and his wife, but change is not easy and this is really a big change for everyone to leave home and scale down and I think it takes a while. It has me.
J: Right, it’s not overnight. What type of advice do you both offer people who have the same kind of feelings? What do you tell them?
H: Well, just kind of hang in there you know, try to get out and do the things that are offered, don’t just sit in the room.
J: How about for folks who haven’t moved yet?
D: What was the question?
J: Well, kind of like when you’re an ambassador and people are asking you for advice on, “Well, should I move, should I stay what can I do to help make that decision?” You know, what do you tell them to consider, what kind of advice do you give them at that time when they’re still?
D: My first advice is don’t wait too long. We’re on the independent living part of it and sometimes people come in on independent that probably should go to the assisted living; they can barely get around. But like my wife just mentioned, I think it’s like any place you go, you’ve got to make an effort to meet people, do the activities. And that’s one plus that we have here, we don’t have that many people like some of them which are overcrowded.
H: Well, not maybe overcrowded they just have such a big place, I wouldn’t like that. I like to know everybody.
D: We often show them our room and let them see it anytime they want to so they can see a room all fixed up. It’s always very nice for them to come to see our apartment. Frankly my wife has it beautifully decorated.
H: The only problem with that is, and we were talking with Amy yesterday, there’s not any more larger apartments, you know that’s hard for them to sell. There’s not a husband and wife going to come in to a one bedroom place and I think we lose people maybe because of that. I couldn’t be here if I didn’t have the space that I have. I just couldn’t be here. Some people maybe can. I couldn’t so for me it almost seemed like a God thing that our house sold quickly and this particular place opened up which, you know, we didn’t have a chance that that would happen. So I think God was telling us that “Hey, it’s time and maybe you should do this.”
J: Sometimes it’s divine timing, isn’t it?
H: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know, it’s hard to give advice to people other than just.
D: We open it up for questions.
H: We’re very positive with them. Sometimes, particularly when I visit with people that are already here if they’re feeling a little sad, I’ll say “hey you know I’m right with you at times.” I don’t know if that’s good or bad but I do it sometimes.
D: Well, I think it’s very important to get involved, like Hazel mentioned. If you just come to the room, you’re going to feel miserable. But the people are very receptive around here. I don’t know of a person that’s not nice and we’re fortunate there.
J: When you were making your list of places, you know, what you were looking for in a place? You knew you wanted it to be in the area and you knew you wanted it to be pet friendly, were there other items that were on your must-have list?
H: You know I had never even really thought about anything like this. I mean, it was totally new to me. The number one thing actually, our son lives about four miles, four and a half, five miles away, that was a big priority. I did not see the point of living ten, fifteen miles away from him because their girls are young and I knew we’d be helping out and then this apartment, when I saw this apartment that kind of did it and then, like I said, the area and the location. It’s a great location.
D: It is very definitely a good location.
H: Everything we want is just really close and so all that had a big influence on us. In fact, we looked several other places and then of course we decided. I went back and I did find a doctor and so it wasn’t so imperative that I move, my son wanted us to move right away so we could get some medical treatment but then after, shoot I forgot what I was going to say Jill.
J: What major things you were looking for in a community and you are saying location was one and proximity to medical.
D: We are close to the biggest mall in Oklahoma City, just two miles and there’s restaurants everywhere. It’s about a fifteen minute drive to the medical physician in the hospital and that all was a consideration for us and being, like Hazel mentioned, close to our son.
H: I think that was the biggest thing, Darryl, because we looked over in Edmond at a place that was beautiful, but I didn’t want to drive that far every time. I wanted to see Doug and Gina and our family so we pretty well honed in on this.
J: Ok, ok, well that’s helpful and what do your kids have to say? How do they feel about you being in a place like The Fountains?
H: They think it’s wonderful, they really do. Our son from New Mexico happened to be here visiting one time after we were really serious and he and Doug, our other son here, they’re both professionals and they came up and talked to, I guess it was Chrissy and Jennifer, to really kind of find out because it’s a lot of money to put down you now. I was happy that they did that because they really questioned everything and told us that they thought it was a good idea and told us what amount they thought we should put in to the thing and what we would get back so that’s helped us decide too. Of course, I know something could always go wrong but we felt secure enough here too because that’s a lot of money to dump into a place.
D: And you know both the boys understand we’re here for that reason and they fully agree that this is the place for us.
H: In fact they’re very proud of us. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard them say that to each other or different people. We don’t want them to have to worry about us.
D: And that’s a good drawing point too Jill, the fact that you’ve got independent living, assisted living, full-time care, memory, all in the same place. You don’t have to go look someplace else for the next lifestyle that you have to have because of some problems. That was a drawing point that it’s all in one location. That, to me, was a concern because a lot of people here have a spouse who is in the other memory care and they still live here, but they’re close by for them to go visit them and that’s a big benefit to me.
J: You don’t want to have to move yet another time, right?
D: No, I’m comfortable with it and I know that if something would happen to me, my wife would be under good care.
J: Wonderful, that’s great. I have a question, tell me about your dog.
H: It’s a little Yorkie. It’s our third one, we’ll never be without a Yorkie. If something happens to her today I would have another one by tomorrow.
J: What a little sweetheart, what’s her name?
H: Her name is Lacey.
J: How old is Lacey?
D: As we speak she’s laying right here on my bed.
H: She is coming up four in September. She is six and a half pounds. Our second one that we had to put down while we were still in New Mexico weighed three pounds, can you believe a three pound little baby?
J: No, that’s a kitten not a dog.
H: Oh my gosh, I love her.
J: Oh what a little sweetie, what does Lacey think about The Fountains?
H: Oh, you know, anywhere we are she’s fine. I think she misses her yard because we had a fenced in yard where we could leave her out however we never left her out alone.
D: That’s one thing here we have these nice little patios and they’re small but they’re adequate. We can just step right outside where we live, where the grass is for her to potty, it’s very handy. We have some other people in the other part of the building that have to come down five stories to take their animal out and this was a concern.
H: We wouldn’t be here if they didn’t take Lacey.
D: Nope, we wouldn’t.
J: That’s great, that’s great.
H: No way.
J: Well, that’s where your priority should be, right? With family.
H: Oh, she’s something else.
D: Well, we’ve always been animal lovers and plus the fact that we have a son who is a veterinarian.
J: Oh really?
H: Our son and his wife, both in New Mexico, are small animal veterinarians, they have their own clinic.
J: How nice.
H: They’ve done very, very well. He’s been out there close to thirty years maybe and our son here is a dentist and he graduated from OU and he’s been here ever since, so they have two dogs. Oh yeah, we love animals.
J: Oh, that’s terrific, that’s wonderful.
D: If it were up to my wife she would have a hundred of them here in the backyard.
H: I wouldn’t have a hundred.
J: A little flock of Yorkies.
H: Yeah, a little flock of Yorkies.
J: When did you move to The Fountains?
H: Two years ago May seventh.
D: August Hazel, not May.
J: August, ok, you just had your anniversary there then.
H: We did.
J: Ok, and I do have one more question. It’s always wonderful when I get to speak with couples. You know, everyone has a special perspective but I think couples have a unique insight into this process, you know, since they’re kind of looking out for each other and enjoying their time together. Do you have any advice for the couples out there in the world who are sometimes, maybe one person is ready and one person is not or they just have a hard time deciding “well, should we move or not” any advice for the couples?
H: Oh gosh, I don’t really know how to answer that. I think if the person wanting to move pushes too hard they’re going to have an unhappy spouse with them.
D: Well, I think we sat down and looked at all the situations pro and con and you know, we’re coming up sixty-two years of marriage and it was a mutual agreement to move here.
H: But that’s not really giving advice Darryl.
D: I don’t know, both parties should agree to it definitely because they can make life miserable for one another. I can’t even venture to say how bad it would be to have one of us 100% against and the other person 100% for. It has to be a mutual agreement, like my wife mentioned I think the good Lord had his say about this.
H: I do know one thing, five or six years ago, I forget just exactly when that was because I’m coming up eighty in October and Darryl will be eighty-six, so I was still about mid-70s then and if it worked out I would’ve been miserable at that time. I would’ve been miserable I know and it worked out that we could stay in Farmington. Then I think the time came when it was the right time you know, but otherwise on giving wise advice, I don’t have any.
J: Well, it’s probably kind of the same advice to anyone really, you know make that pros and cons list and just keep turning to it over time and see when your scales tip.
H: Yeah, I think so Jill, I think so but boy this is getting to be popular all these kinds of places. Wow, there’s an awful lot of them isn’t there?
J: I think so, I think people are starting to see the benefits, you know they don’t want to be up on the ladder cleaning the gutters or supervising someone else or asking for help or hiring out help. I know probably as much as you do miss the house and the yard, it’s probably some free time now that you don’t have to be calling the plumbers and the lawn care folks.
H: We were still doing everything ourselves and enjoying it. We don’t have the cleaning people come here, we just like to do that so, I don’t know Jill, I probably would still be in New Mexico perhaps if they had had anything like this, but there was nothing like this for down the road for us.
D: Well, I think what we mentioned earlier, some people feel that their kids have to take care of them and we just feel that we’ve taken a lot of worry off them. They know we are well taken care of in a nice place and I think that’s very satisfying to our two sons and that’s one of the main reasons too.
H: So I think we’ve talked your arm off Jill.
J: Well, I’ve appreciated every bit of it and we’ve answered all my questions and I can’t thank you enough for your time and perspective. I really do appreciate it.
D: Well, you’re sure entirely welcome, if we can help you out any time, give us a call.
J: Thank you so much, give Lacey a pat on the head for me.
D: Yeah, she’s laying right here.
H: Thank you.
J: Thank you, bye-bye.